With Google announcing that they will be closing the old G Suite Legacy Free plans later in 2022, I’m sure many people (including me!) are looking for alternative options. This will be about the cost of things and privacy – probably a bit of both!
I’ve used G Suite Legacy Free for me, my family and some clients since it was first created). Now I’ve been looking at different options for emails, storage, docs, calendars and contacts.
in this post, I’ve put together some of the options I’ve found. There are other options out there, but I’ve listed ones which looked the most useful to me, my family and my clients! As I’m in the UK, the prices will be in British Pounds and links will be to UK version of products (if there are international options) – but you should be able to get an overall feel of prices, etc. (I’m also going to be some rounding on prices and mainly giving annual options – but again you’ll get the general idea!) You might also need to add VAT/sales tax on things! [I’ll also add the country where things are based as, with differing privacy laws around the world, this is important to many people!]
Depending on how you use G Suite, you might (or not) need certain features. I’ll cover what the costs are of staying with Google, look at ‘full’ alternatives as well as alternatives to individual components – like email and storage, etc.
(Remember that for emails, you have to have all your accounts on one service – you can’t mix and match where email accounts live!)
UPDATE 17th May 2022!
Google have now said that if you’re using Workspace for ‘non-commercial’ (personal) purposes then you can still use it for free! (This could great for families and non commercial/non business clubs and groups.)
To get this option, you need to use this special link (signing in with a master/admin account) – it’s NOT shown within the Admin area presently!
But on with the options I’ve found…
- If you’re a Charity/Nonprofit or not a Business
- What Happens if You Stay with Google?
- Full Google Workspace Alternatives (With Docs)
- Nextcloud – a DIY Cloud Server (Calendars, Contacts, Storage, Chat, Docs, Webmail)
- Email Based Alternatives (No Docs)
- Google Drive/Cloud Storage Alternatives
- Calendars and Contacts
- Migrating Your Data
- What I’m Doing (and for some of my clients)!
If you’re a Charity/Nonprofit or not a Business
You might also be able to use the ‘non commercial’ / ‘personal use’ option as described above in the 17th May 2022 update!
And if you are a nonprofit or other non business user, you still might be interested in some of the other options below – so read on…
What Happens if You Stay with Google?
To stay with Google (on Google Workspace), you will need to add a billing account to your admin account by June 2022. This is all explained in the page on Google about the changes. You can use multiple domains on Google Workspace.
From August you’ll start paying for Google Workspace services. These are the costs:
Google Workspace Business Starter: This is the ‘basic’ plan. You get 30GB of space for emails and things on your Google Drive (storage) as well as calendars, contacts and docs.
- It’s £2.30 per month, so about £28 a year per user for the 1st year;
- It’s £4.60 per month, so about £55 a year per user after the first year.
Google Workspace Business Standard: This is the next plan up. You get 2TB (2000GB) of space for emails and things on your Google Drive (storage) as well as calendars, contacts and docs.
- It’s £4.60 per month, so about £55 a year per user for the 1st year;
- It’s £9.20 per month, so about £110 a year per user after the first year.
There are more, higher, plans but those are only for really big businesses!
There’s more info on: https://workspace.google.com/intl/en_uk/pricing.html
[Google is based in the USA, with offices and servers around the world.]
Full Google Workspace Alternatives (With Docs)
There are two/three main alternatives to Google Workspace that come with email, storage, calendars and docs – Zoho and Microsoft.
Each account gets some space for emails and also shared storage space. You can use multiple domains on Zoho Workspace.
- Zoho Workplace Standard – 30GB for emails and storage space starting at 10GB. It’s £2.40 per month, so about £29 a year.
- Zoho Workplace Professional – 100GB for emails and storage space starting at 100GB. It’s £4.80 per month, so about £58 a year.
You can also mix account types. There’s more info on: https://www.zoho.com/workplace/pricing.html
Zoho also have some migration tools and information: https://www.zoho.com/mail/help/gsuite-to-zoho-mail-migration.html
Zoho also offer ‘Mail only’ accounts (more on those below!).
[Zoho started in India and is now a multinational with offices and servers located globally.]
Formally Office 365, Microsoft 365 also offers email, storage, calendar and docs. They’ve got ‘Business’ and ‘Home’ plans. I won’t list them all, just a couple that might be of interest (and there are links to see all the plans). You can use multiple domains on Google Workspace.
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic – 1TB (1000GB) for emails and storage. It’s £3.80 per month, so about £46 a year.
You can see all the Business options at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business/compare-all-microsoft-365-business-products
- Microsoft 365 Family – This gives you 6TB (6000GB) designed to be shared between up to six accounts. It’s about £80 a year.
You can see the Home options at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/buy/compare-all-microsoft-365-products
Microsoft have some information about migrating to 365 plans at: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/mailbox-migration/perform-g-suite-migration
[Microsoft is based in the USA with offices and servers located globally.]
iCloud isn’t really a complete alternative, but I thought it was worth a mention! It’s really designed to be used with/on Apple computers and iPads/iPhones. But it does offer email, calendar, contacts, storage and editing of docs (but only ones in Apple formats). You can only use a single domain with iCloud (I think).
It’s free with 5GB of space and an @icloud.com email address.
There’s also iCloud+ where you can use your domain for the email and you get more storage, from 50GB – about £10 a year, to 2TB (2000GB) – about £85 a year. You can also share this with up to five others ‘family members’ with Apple Family Sharing: https://www.apple.com/uk/family-sharing/
The price of plans vary depending on the country, so see here for more information: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201238
[Apple is based in the USA with offices and servers located globally.]
Nextcloud – a DIY Cloud Server (Calendars, Contacts, Storage, Chat, Docs, Webmail)
How about having your own version of Google Workspace? Well, with Nextcloud you can do that! It includes you calendars, contacts, storage, chats, docs and more. For the email side of things you need to have email on an email host and then use Nextcloud to view it with it’s webmail client.
Oh, and it’s FREE. Well, sort of! The program is free (yes, really), but you’ll need a server where it lives. If you’re a real techy, you can download and install it yourself.
But if you’re less tech inclined, you can get a Nextcloud approved provider (server host) to do it for you (at a cost). The costs vary between providers and the plans/space they offer.
But for some businesses and groups, this could be a great solution – so I thought I’d mention it!
Email Based Alternatives (No Docs)
If you mainly use the email part of G Suite/Google Workspace, then email based options might well be better for your needs. Some also come with calendars/contacts and even some storage. I’ll cover some of these below.
Very Simple Email Options (Forwarding, etc.)
If you’ve only got a few email accounts, then a simple (and possibly free) option would be to use ‘free’ email accounts (like from Gmail.com or Outlook.com) and have your ‘domain’ emails ‘got into’ them.
You can forward emails and/or set-up small email accounts on your web hosting (you get some email accounts on most web hosting) and import those into your main account. Cloudflare also offer ‘Email Routing’ which is like forwarding on steroids! [Cloudflare is based in the USA, with offices around the world and a global server network.]
This can work well. To send ‘from the domain’ email address, each email service normally has their own way of doing things. Here’s how to do this on Gmail and how to on Outlook.com. If you don’t have an SMTP (mail sending service) you can use, then good mail sending option are Mailjet and SendinBlue. They have a free plan where you can send up to 6000 emails a month (max 200 a day).
But if you’ve got several accounts, then you’ll probably want ‘proper’ email hosting.
Email Options by the User
Most email hosting is set-up so you pay per user/mailbox (or by groups of users/mailboxes). There are LOTS of options for this type of email hosting – far more than I can list here! So here are some good quality and good value options.
Plans are based per user/account. They come with calendars and contacts. You can use multiple domains on Zoho Mail paid accounts.
- Mail Lite – 10GB. It’s £1 per month, so £12 per year per user.
- Mail Premium – 15GB. It’s £3.20 per month, so about £38 per year per user.
- Forever Free – If you only use ‘webmail’ or mail in a mobile app, this plan gives you up to five users with 5GB for emails each.
There’s more info on: https://www.zoho.com/mail/zohomail-pricing.html
[Zoho started in India and is now a multinational with offices and servers located globally.]
CloudyHost Business Email
Plans are based on groups of users/accounts (36 month contract). They come with calendars and contacts. The space can also be used for storage. I think you can only use one domain on Cloudyhost Business Email. (There’s nothing in their docs which says you can use multiple ones!)
- Mail – 5 Users / 50GB per user. It’s £2.78pm per month, so about £33 per year.
- Mail Plus – 10 Users / 50GB per user. It’s £5.56 per month, so about £67 per year.
- Mail Pro – 20 Users / 50GB per user. It’s £11.13 per month, so about £134 per year.
- Mail Biz – 40 Users / 50GB per user. It’s £22.26 per month, so about £268 per year.
There’s more info on: https://www.cloudyhost.com/email-hosting/
[Cloudlyhost is based in Estonia and has offices and servers around the world.]
Namecheap Professional Business Email
Plans are based on groups of users/mailboxes. They come with calendars and contacts. Storage space is separate to mail space. I think you can only use one domain on Namecheap Professional Business Email. (There’s nothing in their docs which says you can use multiple ones!)
- Starter – 1 mailbox included. 5GB for Mail / 2GB for Storage. About £8 for the 1st year, £11 per year after that. Extra mailboxes about 50p a month.
- Pro – 3 mailboxes included. 30GBs for Mail / 15GBs for Storage. About £19 for the 1st year, £29 per year after that. Extra mailboxes about £1.20 a month.
- Ultimate – 5 mailboxes included. 75GBs for Mail / 30GBs for Storage. About £32 for the 1st year, £50 per year after that. Extra mailboxes about £2.14 a month.
There’s more info on: https://www.namecheap.com/hosting/email/
Namecheap also have information on migrating things: https://www.namecheap.com/hosting/email/migrate-email/
[Namecheap is based in the USA. Its email servers are also in the USA.]
ServerMX offers mail boxes at four different sizes. It comes with ‘basic’ calendar and contact support (using CalDav/CardDav). You can use multiple domains with ServerMX.
ServerMX’s mailboxes range from 2GB (at about £1 a month) up to 50GB (at about £3.30 a month). There’s also a 50% discount on more than five mailboxes and other discounts based on time to get them for.
Rather than me listing all the many options, there’s more info on: https://www.servermx.com/en/pricing/
ServerMX also have a migration tool: https://www.servermx.com/en/help/howto/Administration-tasks/howto-migrate.html and tips for migrating from Gmail/Google: https://www.servermx.com/en/help/documentation/common-issue/index.html
[ServerMX is based in Italy. Its servers are located around the world, including in France and Canada.]
Email Options by Space
In some cases, it might be useful to pay for a set amount of space and then chop that space up into as many domains and users/mailboxes as you’d like. This is a different way about thinking of handling email accounts, but it can be much for flexible in how you can do things. This type of approach could be especially useful if you’ve got several small(ish) accounts across a few domains (as I have…). There are much fewer options for ‘pay for space’ email providers, but here’s are some that might be of interest.
There are some emails in/out limits on Migadu which might put some people off. However, these aren’t hard limits, you get an extra 25% before any disruption. It comes with ‘basic’ calendar and contact support (using CalDav/CardDav). You can use multiple domains on Migadu.
- Micro – 5GB of space. About £15 a year. 200 emails in a day / 20 emails out a day.
- Mini – 30GB of space. About £70 a year. 1000 emails in a day / 100 emails out a day.
- Standard – 100GB of space. About £215 a year. 3,000 emails in a day / 500 emails out a day.
- Maxi – 500GB of space. About £740 a year. 10,000 emails in a day / 2,000 emails out a day.
There’s more info on: https://www.migadu.com/pricing/
Some information on using Migadu’s Calendars/Contacts (not on Migadu’s site): https://www.billdietrich.me/SecureCommunication.html?expandall=1#MigaduCalendarAndContacts
[Migadu is based in Switzerland. Its servers are in France.]
Servercow doesn’t have any in/out limits. It comes with ‘basic-ish’ calendar and contact support (using CalDav/CardDav). You can use multiple domains on Servercow.
Classic mailcow – 20GB of space. About £45 a year (-19% tax if you’re outside the EU). You can add up to 15GB extra storage at 0.50€ / month per GB. 20 mailbox limit. You can only have one main domain on this plan. (You can use other domains but they are only aliases.)
Managed mailcow – 100GB of space. About £400 a year (-19% tax if you’re outside the EU). No mailbox limits. This can use multiple domains as full accounts.
There’s more info on: https://www.servercow.de/mailcow?lang=en#hosted
[Servercow is based in Germany and their servers are in Germany.]
If you really want to do things yourself, the team behind Servercow make Mailcow, which is an email server which you host/run yourself. (Servercow is their ‘hosted for you’ version of Mailcow. You can also get a support plan for your own hosted version of Mailcow at about £25 a month.)
Google Drive/Cloud Storage Alternatives
There are lots of cloud storage alternatives to Google Drive. Most give a free amount of space and then have pay for plans. Most also have applications for your computer and tablet/phone, just like Google Drive.
You can view things like PDFs, DOCx, PPTx, etc. in these options, but you can’t edit/create them like in Google Docs.
Again, I can’t mention them all, so here are some of what I think are good options! All the below offer top spec security and data protection.
With Mega you get 20GB for free. MEGA also offers text, audio and video chats in its service.
Plans start at 400GB for £42 a year and 2TB (2000GB) for £84 a year. More at: https://mega.io/pro
They also have business plans based on the number of users and space used: https://mega.io/business
[MEGA is based in New Zealand. Their servers are in Canada, New Zealand and several countries in the EU.]
With pCloud you get ‘up to’ 10GB for free. (You start off with 2GB and unlock another 5GB by doing things like installing their apps. The final 3GB of free space is gained by inviting people.)
pCloud offers individual, family and business plans. With individual and family plans you can pay for ‘lifetime’ accounts (which work out at about 3.5 years worth of annual plans). Individual plans start at 500GB for £43 a year and 2TB (2000GB) for £86 a year. There’s more at: https://www.pcloud.com/cloud-storage-pricing-plans.html
They also run lots of special lifetime offers around holidays and special occasions (like Christmas, Valentines, Halloween etc.) – so if you’re interested, get a free plan and wait for a special offer email to arrive!
pCloud can auto get/backup/transfer your items from Google Drive – nice! https://blog.pcloud.com/easy-google-drive-backup/
[pCloud is based in Switzerland. Their servers are in Luxembourg and the USA – you can choose where you account is stored.]
If you’re only looking for space to ‘store’ things online and don’t need sharing/viewing of them, etc., then BackBlaze can be brilliant value. They offer a simple computer backup system using their own software from about £50 per year.
However, they also offer just ‘space’ for MUCH cheaper. I’m currently using the free Duplicati backup software with BackBlaze’s ‘B2’ storage. I’ve got about 50GB of my work files auto backed-up daily (incrementally) and it’s costing me about £2 A YEAR. That sounds like an idea for another blog post (watch this space)!
Calendars and Contacts
You’ve got your emails moved, but what about your calendars and contacts? Some of the options above come with calendars and contacts as part of their plans. But for others, I’ve put that they offer ‘basic’ calendars and contacts. I’ll cover what I mean by that here, as well as some other ways you could use calendars and contacts.
The ‘basic’ calendars, mentioned on some of the email only options above, use ‘CalDAV’. This is a protocol for storing/syncing calendar info online. With CalDAV you use a third party calendar app/service to ‘view’ the calendar(s).
Many of the services above offer the ability to use their CalDAV link/address to store calendar info, but you ‘use’ the calendar in an app on your phone or computer or with a calendar in your email client (you have to jump through a few hoops to make CalDAV work on the Outlook email program).
For simple (and more complex) calendars, they can work well – especially if you’re used to using a calendar on your mobile or as part of an email client.
Somewhat surprisingly, there aren’t many alternatives to full on ‘online calendars’ like Google Calendar. One option might be use a ‘free’ Google Calendar. (I think this could be an auto option for those who don’t pay for Google Workspace but want to keep their calendar data.)
There are calendars in Microsoft 365 but not as an individual product, they come as part of having a Microsoft 365 or a free Outlook.com account.
The only real ‘calendar only’ option is Zoho Calendar and it’s free!
Morgan is an app for Windows, Mac and Linux which can display just about any calendar out there (including Google, Microsoft, Exchange, Zoho, Nextcloud and CalDAV). It’s got a free option for viewing one CalDAV account (there can be multiple calendars in one account). It’s about £80 for multiple accounts and more advanced features.
It’s a similar story with contacts. There aren’t many options and most email clients have their own contacts system.
CardDAV is a contacts version of CalDAV and can be used to keep your contacts on a server and using a third party app to view/use them. Most contact managers, in things like email clients and phone apps, can use CardDAV.
Google & iCloud
Using Google or iCloud for your calendar/contacts could be a simple option if there are just a few people needing those types of services. But neither are really designed for large groups…
Migrating Your Data
Not everything in Google Workspace (like some maps and forms) can be easily moved. Google have a support page with more information.
But here’s some general information on how to move different types of information you might have in Google Workspace/G Suite.
Some of the options above include their own migration systems. Apart from those, there are two main ways of moving emails, I’ll look at below.
Also be aware that Google/Gmail have limits on the bandwidth/amount of mail you can move/download/upload with IMAP and in the web interface. This is 1250MB (1.25GB) a day on the web and 2500MB (2.5GB) a day with IMAP. This might mean that using a system’s own migration tool or one of the options below could take quite a while if you’ve got more than 2.5GB of mail to move!
IMAP is the way that most (non ‘Exchange’) email accounts now store and sync their messages. imapsync is a tool, for Windows, Mac and Linux, which does what it says – it allows you to migrate/sync two different IMAP accounts! Using it can be a bit techy. However, for mailboxes under 3GB, there’s a great free online tool from its maker which is very simple to use.
For mailboxes above 3GB you’ll need to pay €60 EUR for the basic version and €120 EUR for the program and support from its maker. (There is a free, no questions asked, refund in the first 30 days.) The imapsync site isn’t the prettiest but is VERY thorough about how you use it.
With Google email accounts, even with the online tool, there’s an extra step to do before you can use it. In you Google account, you need to allow ‘Less Secure App Access’ (at least while the migration is happening). You can do that from at link (when you’re signed into your Google account): https://myaccount.google.com/lesssecureapps (You might also need the admin of your G Suite/Google Workspace to allow you to change this setting, it can be disabled at an admin level.)
Do It Yourself!
Another way to migrate emails is to do it yourself. Using an email client (Thunderbird, which is free, is about the best one to use for this), you can have both your old and new email accounts in the client and copy/move emails between them.
You normally need to have the new email system all set-up and working (i.e. new emails are coming into it) before doing this.
Although there are limits on what you can download/move with the web/IMAP side of Google emails, there is a way round this! You can also download all of your mail and have that on your own computer and then upload mail to your new account. I’ve already written a post about how to download/export your emails with Google Takeout – so go and have a read!
This can be a good way of moving mail – especially if you have a lot. It also means you’ve got a full archive of your existing/old emails. And of course you don’t then to upload *everything* to your new email service – if you don’t want to! (There might also be IMAP limits on your new email service, so it might be worth checking with them.)
Using the Google Takeout tool, as in the post linked above, you can also download your calendar files. These are generally very small and are in the iCal .ics file format. This can be imported by just about every calendar system out there. (Sometimes you might have to create a blank calendar first and then import an .ics file into it.)
Google Takeout can also export your contacts. When in Google Takeout, on the Contacts section, there’s a button which says [vCard Format]. If you click that, you can choose if your contacts are exported in the vCard or CSV formats.
Different contact apps use the different formats, so check before you export. (It is possible to convert them after an export, but it can be a pain to do!)
Some storage services have their own migration/backup/moving tools (pCloud can get files from many other storage providers, including Google Drive).
If you’ve got the files on your computer, you could always manually upload them again to a new storage service. However, if you’ve got lots of files (and/or they use a lot of space) that could be a rather a pain to do… Thankfully, there’s are a third party site/service which can move things between many storage providers.
This service can move things between many different cloud storage services including Google Drive, pCloud, OneDrive and MEGA (and keep them synced if you want).
There’s a free plans for up to 30GB a month – this might well be enough for most people! Paid plans start at about £8 a month for 150GB – so one month might be all you’d need if you’ve got more than 30GB.
What I’m Doing (and for some of my clients)!
Phew! I hope your brain isn’t hurting with all of the above. I know mine has, when going through the multiple options for my clients and myself.
Between my business, some side projects/sites and my family, I had six domains of G Suite Legacy Free to sort out (although most of these only had one or two email accounts and many don’t have things like storage or calendars to think about).
I’m in the process of moving these over to a Migadu Mini plan – as that really fits my needs. I’ve moved four of the domains and the emails are working on there now (the other two will be moved soon). So far, so great! Setting things up on Migadu was quite frankly a joy (and you don’t hear that said about many tech things). The intro docs are great and how to set everything up was explained very well. (I’ve also got the DNS for my domains on Cloudflare, which helps make that easier/faster.)
For some of the mail accounts (with only small mailboxes) I’ve used the online imapsync to migrate them and it’s worked very well. My business email account had 6.5GB of mail. So I’ve done an export with Google Takeout and have it all on my main work computer as an ‘archive’ in Thunderbird. On the new account with Migadu, I’ve set it up with just my ‘active’ clients and their last couple of years of emails (it’s now about 1.5GB rather than 6.5GB).
I’m a Mac user, so my calendar and contacts were already in iCloud. I’m also already a user of pCloud and MEGA for storage. For docs I need to edit, etc. I’m using a free ‘Gmail’ type Google Docs account.
My charity/nonprofit clients are being moved onto Google Workspace Nonprofits (some have already moved, others are in the process of getting things sorted).
One of my clients is probably staying on Google Workspace (with a Business Standard plan). However, they’re also planning to consolidate their cloud storage to make it ‘pay’ better for them. At least one will probably go for the forwarding/Mailjet option.
And with a couple of clients, we’re looking at what would be the best option(s) for them.
And that’s really the point of this post. To share with others some of the options I found while doing research for myself and my clients!
Thanks for reading – I hope it might help…
UPDATE 8th April 2022! I’ve been using Migadu for about a month now and LOVE IT. But that’s probably another blog post…!